Review of the free Call of Cthulhu scenario Vengeance from Beyond, written by Mark Chiddicks and Marcus D. Bone, the first scenario in the Monophobia – A Fear of Solitude collection of three one-on-one ‘duet’ scenarios.

In Short:

A unique take on one-on-one scenarios, a common horror trope, and a classic Call of Cthulhu mystery setup, that makes for a tense and intimate game between the player and the Keeper – as long as the Keeper is careful to avoid the later half falling into tedium.

Spoiler-lite for Players and Keepers: 

Vengeance from Beyond is made for Call of Cthulhu 6e but can be basically run as-is for 7e. The scenario takes up 10 pages, which sounds like a small page count, but it’s entirely body text with no images to break up the scenario’s narrative. Another page of handouts and a stat block round out the scenario’s content. While simple and text heavy, the layout is clean, readable, and printer-friendly, and as a free scenario it’s difficult to complain about the lack of illustrations.

The hook sounds as classic as it gets. The investigator needs to track down a stolen book. Things progress as expected for a short while, until they very much do not.

As a one-on-one ‘duet’ scenario, the full weight of the scenario and responsibility to get the most out of it is on the single player and the Keeper, and if both are not fully invested the scenario likely won’t take off. Vengeance from Beyond is decidedly not a beginner-friendly scenario, despite being written very clearly and in detail. The Keeper will need to prepare NPCs and scenes beforehand, and they should understand well how to handle the pacing of the later half of the scenario. The player likewise needs to be ready to take initiative in both uncovering and dealing with the mystery, as well as getting deeper into their investigator’s head than the average scenario demands.

When I ran the scenario, I was fairly new to running Call of Cthulhu, and it was only the player’s third roll playing game session in general. While we enjoyed the scenario, and I very much liked reading beforehand and preparing, we both stumbled in the ending half. I didn’t plan the pacing well, leading to a monotonous drag for the player, and taking them out of their character up until the final scene.

I know where I misstepped, and if I ran the scenario again I have ideas of how to smooth out the rough bits. And I do hope I get the chance to run this again, as it is a very unique take on a handful of cliches and tropes. Overall, Vengeance from Beyond is best when both the Keeper and player are at least moderately experienced with Call of Cthulhu, so the twists on conventions can be fully appreciated and handled.

Monophobia can be downloaded for free from Unbound Publishing

Following are spoilers, but before you go, maybe you would be interested in some of the below reviews or replays?
MJRRPG scenarios, Chaosium-released scenarios, Miskatonic Repository scenarios, Japanese scenarios




Spoilers Call of Cthulhu




Spoilers for Keepers:

As stated earlier, Vengeance from Beyond starts out very straight forward. The investigator is contacted by a collector who wants them to track down a stolen book. The collector had been drugged by an odd customer, Ethan Blane, who then absconded with the tome. With a couple sketchy clues the investigator inquires with various other bookstores and collectors (all of which must be created by the Keeper), and eventually tracks down the thief to a boarding house.

The investigator is greeted with the lovely scene of Blane, naked and decorating his apartment with symbols drawn in his own feces. Through a struggle or trying to escape, the utterly insane Blane topples out of a window to his death. The investigator gets the book and maybe a few other curious clues, and can then return the book for a tidy prize and go on their merry way. Easy scenario!

Until a week later the collector calls in a terrified frenzy, rambling about Blane coming after him. When the investigator arrives at their address, once again they watch a man plummet from a window to their death. The investigator then has a day to look into the collector’s death – though they don’t yet know they’re on a time limit. In 24 hours, the evil spirit of the Blane, ripped from his body by a ritual, will begin haunting the investigator.

 After those 24 hours pass, Blane can begin assaulting the investigator’s sanity with a wide stable of tricks and spells. These are as minor as appearing as a shadowy figure in reflective surfaces, to more unsettling occurrences like whispers and phone calls, to directly manifesting in some horrific appearance before the investigator. The catch is that only the investigator can see any of this – it seems to be all in their head.

A wily Keeper will start small and stay as subtle as possible for as long as possible, leaving the player guessing as to whether they’re being stalked by cultists, monsters, or their own twisted mind. Ideally the Keeper will only reveal the truth of the haunting, having Ethan Blane announce himself, once the player has worked out what is happening on their own.

I made the mistake of having Blane appear too early and taunt the investigator too directly, letting the player know what they were dealing with and robbing them of much of the actual horror of the scenario. Once you know that it’s a Blane ghost, all the mysterious shadows, rotting food, and whispered voices become annoyances as the player just wants to get on with things.

The only real way to find out what is happening, as well as finding the solution, is to get the original tome back. Unfortunately, it is locked away in the deceased collector’s office as his estate is being dealt with, and later will be transported to a law office. The investigator is left to come up with whatever hair-brained heist scheme the player can manage.

In the end, there are plenty of opportunities to retrieve the book. Once the investigator has it on hand, they need to research the book. And this is, for me, the greatest weak point in the scenario. It takes at least 18 days to read the book, all the while the spirit should be harassing the investigator, draining their SAN. There is no way to make that interesting. Even reducing the read time to 18 hours is still awkward, as every two hours or so Blane will have enough MP to spook the investigator again.

To ease this, I’d first have reading the relevant section of the tome take only 18 hours, potentially less if the investigator is well-read, Mythos-experienced, or has a companion NPC that can assist (in my run the investigator befriended one of the book collectors in the opening of the scenario, a wizened old crone that dealt out of parks at midnight). During that time, Blane pools his MP and only doing one or two minor creepy distractions, such as sounds making the investigator think something is in the house with them, or making them hallucinate a dead friendly NPC, etc. As the investigator nears the end of their reading, Blane uses his accumulated MP for a full manifestation, appearing in all his broken glory in front of the investigator, charging at them as if to rip their head off before vanishing right at the last moment, hopefully leaving the investigator in a Bout of Madness.

Reading the tome lets the investigator know what is really happening to them, and how to banish Blane. They will need to stop their heart beat, defeat Blane in a spirit world in a clash of POW, then have someone restart their heart soon enough before their brain atrophies.

I absolutely love this climax. It’s weird and complex, requiring planning and creativity on the player’s part, and the brawl in the spirit world, complete with manifesting imagined-weapons with POW rolls, is a wonderfully-bizarre scene. And even after defeating Blane, the investigator needs to rely on whoever they roped into helping them to successfully revive them. It’s a brutal ending, potentially leaving an investigator with irreparable brain damage.

This does mean that the investigator should already know some sort of medically trained NPCs, either met in previous adventures, introduced in this scenario (potentially as one of the three sources encountered while searching for the book), or as family connections of the investigator is a pregen specially made for this scenario.

Overall, I’m really impressed with Vengeance from Beyond. It’s best serviced by a Keeper that knows how to plan ahead, improvise, and adjust pacing to match the player’s progress. On the other hand, it works best when paired with a  player that will come in with a good amount of CoC experience, so their own preconceptions can work against them when the haunting begins. There’s always a cult, wizard, or Shoggoth waiting in the shadows in most scenarios, hopefully turning the player’s imagination away from the truth of the haunting.

Again, you can find Vengeance from Beyond in the Monophobia one-on-one scenario collection for free from Unbound Publishing

Thank you for reading, but before you go, maybe you would be interested in some of the below reviews or replays?
MJRRPG scenarios, Chaosium-released scenarios, Miskatonic Repository scenarios, Japanese scenarios


  1. Marcus Bone 2023-01-21 at 06:34

    Thanks for the review of this! Good to know that even today new players and Keepers are still enjoying (getting a little bit of) Monophobia!!

    Regards, Marcus

    1. MJRRPG 2023-01-22 at 17:09

      And thanks for writing it! Hope to run the other two this year, especially have my hopes up for ‘Of Grave Concern,’ it looks like a lot of fun.

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